Don’t waste opportunity to restructure resource management
Late payment harms small firms’ cashflow and not only seriously hampers their ability to invest and grow can threaten their existence. Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses show that in 2014 more than £14bn was owed to SMEs in late payments despite the introduction of a European Directive to combat this issue, which became law in 2013.
The Late Payment Directive set a limit of 30 days for public authorities and 60 days for the private sector to stump up the cash the owed suppliers, and the FSB is calling on the next government to complete the implementation of the LPD to, first, ensure that the period for payment fixed in the contract does not exceed 60 calendar days and then aim for a 30-day limit for payments to be made, across both public and private sectors.
With it becoming increasingly harder to switch on a TV, read a newspaper or listen to the radio without coming across the E-word, the FSB is not the only body calling on politicians to introduce changes that will benefit both small business and the waste, resource and recycling industry should they win the General Election that is less than four weeks away.
The six bodies that make up the Trade Association Group, which include the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Environmental Services Association, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association, are calling on the next government to:
- Establish an Office for Resource Management to lead and co-ordinate government policy on resource efficiency and waste prevention across departments
- Expand the market for reused and recycled products and materials by reforming government procurement rules, putting appropriate economic incentives in place, and placing a sustained emphasis on public communication and engagement
- Stimulate private investment in new waste treatment, recycling and reprocessing facilities by setting long-term targets
- Protect local communities, safeguard the environment and reduce tax evasion by ensuring that enforcement bodies and local authorities are properly resourced to combat waste crime.
The value of the resource management industry’s contribution to the economy is over £12bn a year, according to government data, and it employs over 150,000 people. The vast majority of those people work for SMEs, which official figures confirm produce one-third of the private sector’s turnover.
The figures speak for themselves on the huge potential that moving towards a circular economy can bring. It’s about job creation, resource security, environmental protection and economic growth.
The first step has to be restructuring the next government’s departments to ensure better co-ordination and a more strategic approach to resource management. Responsibility for resource management is currently divided between a number of governmental departments including the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Treasury, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Cabinet Office.
This inefficient, fragmented approach prevents the development of coherent policies that span lifecycles from raw material inputs to reprocessed secondary products. The present government has already admitted that that a European target of recycling 50% of Britain’s waste by 2020 will be missed. That is why the next government must take steps to drive recycling forward by stimulating private investment in facilities, which can only benefit SMEs.